What Is an Appraisal?

A home purchase is the largest financial decision most of us may ever make. Whether it's where you raise your family, a seasonal vacation property or an investment, purchasing real property is an involved financial transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

Most people are familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The real estate agent is the most recognizable person in the exchange. Next, the bank provides the financial capital needed to fund the deal. And the title company ensures that all areas of the transaction are completed and that a clear title passes from the seller to the buyer.

To learn more about appraising, click here to see a short video or call us today to talk about your specific property.

So, what party is responsible for making sure the property is worth the purchase price? In comes the appraiser. We provide an unbiased estimate of what a buyer might expect to pay — or a seller receive — for a property, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A licensed, certified, professional appraiser from Blue Ridge Appraisal Co., L.L.C. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

To determine an accurate status of the property, it's our duty to first perform a thorough inspection. We must see aspects of the property first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they truly are present and are in the shape a reasonable person would expect them to be. To ensure the stated size of the property is accurate and document the layout of the property, the inspection often requires creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, we look for any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the house.

Back at the office, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of the property: paired sales analysis and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Replacement Cost

Here, we use information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other factors to ascertain how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This estimate usually sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers become very familiar with the subdivisions in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of specific features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the subject being appraised. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as square footage, extra bathrooms, hardwood floors, fireplaces or view lots (just to name a few), we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject property.

  • For example, if the comparable property has an extra half bath that the subject does not, the appraiser may deduct the value of that half bath from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • However, in the case where the subject has something such as an extra half bath that a comparable doesn't have, the appraiser might add the value of that bath to the comparable property.

An opinion of what the subject could sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. When it comes to knowing the true worth of features of homes in Staunton and Staunton City, Blue Ridge Appraisal Co., L.L.C. can't be beat. This approach to value is usually awarded the most consideration when an appraisal is for a real estate sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - the appraiser may use a third way of valuing a house. In this case, the amount of income the property yields is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to determine the current value.

Putting It All Together

Combining information from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the property in question. The estimate of value on the appraisal report is not always the final sales price even though it is likely the best indication of a property's valueThere are always mitigating factors such as seller motivation, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust the final price up or down. Regardless, the appraised value is often used as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property is actually worth. The bottom line is, an appraiser from Blue Ridge Appraisal Co., L.L.C. will guarantee you discover the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.

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